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“The role of political parties in electoral processes”: What parties might do to build and strengthen democracy. Contribution to a workshop by Andreas Gross (Switzerland) (Political Scientist, MP, Leader of the Socialdemocrats in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe)

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“The role of political parties in electoral processes”:What parties might do to build and strengthen democracy

Contribution to a workshop by

Andreas Gross (Switzerland)

(Political Scientist, MP, Leader of the Socialdemocrats in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe)

at the 5th “Forum for the Future of Democracy” of the CoE

« Electoral Systems: strengthening democracy in the 21st century »

Kiew, October 22nd 2009


One expression of the current banalisation of Democracy is the regression of political parties to power machines run by one man shows

In order to be able to build and strengthen Democracy political parties should be and function in a smaller scale how they think the state should function and develop itself

today the classical duties of politi cal parties have to be re established in all parts of europe

Today - the classical duties of politi-cal parties have to be (re-)established in all parts of Europe

  • Opportunities to regular deliberations in order to find political orientation and generate democratic power
  • Opportunities for (mutual) political education and learning
  • Places to elaborate programs to propose solutions for the most important problems of the society
  • Links between representatives and members and electors: Both have to listen to each-other
by doing this they are would be again essential parts of an improved democracy building processes

By doing this they are (would be) (again) essential parts of an improved democracy building processes

  • Legitimacy of political decisions
  • Understanding of political situations and social realities
  • Social and political learning
  • Inspiring and designing policy change in time and substance

In countries with a strong democracy the main parties have active sections in every bigger village and town

  • There one listens, speaks, thinks, exchanges experiences, alternative propositions and hopes with each other
  • Formulates interests and tries to transform them into concepts, programs and practical suggestions for parliaments and governments or common collective actions
  • Officials have to defend their actions, non-actions, shortcomings

Nobody knows what “the general interest” and “the public cause” is:That ‘s why we need different parties who try to formulate them based on different philosophical believes, interests and priorities

  • Parties are places where different people with different philosophical convictions, interests and perspectives try to formulate how they understand the General Interest and the Public Cause and where they try to find others who share their views in order to organise themselves, adress and convince others and generate together political power.

Today the big media are transforming parties to the worst and/or trying even to overtake their duties“ Media create realities and do not longer only deliberate it”

“Agenda setter + Gate keeper” (not only Watch-Dog) by Prof. Pippa Norris (USA)

Instead of organisations of engaged citizens and active members just fans (uncritical followers) ,sponsors, voters and future power holders

Power-Machines and power-clans to get power and distribute money, posts, privileges, influence, policies

Parties follow big-media logics and sacrify Democracy

such a transformation sacrifices democracy for what sells well creates profits and is sexy

Such a transformation sacrifices Democracy for what sells well, creates profits and is “sexy”

No other tradition and collective knowledge

End of big (industrial) camps and regression of politics to state administration which serves the interest of economy

Citizens became consumers and have no time anymore to read, discuss, meet others and engage

Diversification of politics, issue orientation, voters are switching parties, personality prevails values, interest, ideas and interests


The more a party on all levels is marked not only by professionals but also “ordinary citizens”, the stronger the party and representative Democracy are

  • The more ordinary citizens are, the more they bring the experiences of “daily life” into politics
  • The better citizens can speak, express their needs and observations, the more all others, especially officials may learn and the better Democracy will get
in order to restore democracy political party s first have to restore themselves

In order to restore Democracy political party’s first have to restore themselves

  • Back to the better roots under new (partially also better ) historical circumstances
  • New interface between individual and collective group
  • Intellectual policy Laboratory of deliberation, acting and learning
  • Open workshops for interested citizens to provide orientation